Primatology Field Course
Primatology Field Course 2023-24
School Of Natural Sciences
Module - Semester 1
This field course introduces students to a range of techniques for studying primate behaviour, ecology, and conservation in the wild. It develops students’ observational skills and ability to collect and interpret data on a range of topics, depending on students’ particular interests. This field course allows students to explore the lush diversity of tropical life and to learn first-hand about the significant conservation issues that affect this ecosystem and its inhabitants. The practical skills acquired during this field course will be valuable to students interested in conducting field research for their Year 3 dissertations on a range of species, though those who have a particular interest in primates or other social mammals would benefit the most.
Theoretical themes developed in this module (via directed reading and student observations in the field) may include: tropical rainforest ecology, primate community ecology, primate behavioural ecology, primate conservation biology, tropical rainforest conservation, community-focused approaches to conservation.
Practical skills that students will develop in the field may include: identifying primate species and distinguishing individuals of different age-sex classes; quantifying group size and composition; behaviour sampling techniques for quantifying primate behaviour (focal animal sampling, group scan sampling); ecological sampling techniques to characterize and quantify forest structure and composition (transects and plots); designing and carrying out censuses to quantify primate abundance and distribution; identifying primate foods and measuring their abundance; collecting and mapping spatial data on the ranging behaviour of primate groups via GPS technology; using sound and video recording equipment to study primate vocalisations and behaviour; collecting data on anthropogenic impacts on the forest.
Research design skills that will be developed in this module may include: conducting preliminary observations in the field and using those in combination with reading of the literature to identify a gap in scientific knowledge; formulating research questions, hypotheses and predictions; evaluating different methodological approaches and choosing the most appropriate ones given a specific research objective; collecting pilot data to test feasibility of methods; refining methodology based on pilot observations; preparing a research proposal/report based on independent reading and practical experience in the field.
- Identify and evaluate the importance of specific conservation issues facing primates in the study location on the basis of personal observations and a detailed knowledge of the literature.
- Critically evaluate the suitability of a variety of field methods for the study of primate behaviour, ecology, and conservation for addressing particular research questions.
- Demonstrate the ability to design and carry out a small-scale observational or ecological study of primates in their natural habitat.
- Demonstrate the ability to make detailed, thorough and original field observations and to record and present them systematically.
Logbook Or Portfolio
Field note-book & project data submission
Research proposal or pilot project report